Italian Business Structures

As has already been said, Italy boasts a large percentage of small and medium-sized family-owned organisations but even many of the larger companies are still controlled in large part by single families (Fiat, Benetton etc.)

Indeed, the traditional lack of available venture capital in Italy has meant that many organisations have relied solely on family money and retained profits for investment inputs. Given this ongoing family financial involvement, it is hardly surprising that the family would want to keep a large measure of control.

In keeping with this family suffused ethos, management structures have developed to be strongly hierarchical with most decisions, if not actually made at the top, certainly being pushed upwards by middle management for ratification. Much time can be wasted trying to get an agreement with peer level Italians only to discover at a later stage that the decision will be made elsewhere by people who have never been explicitly mentioned.

Therefore, possibly more than in any of the European countries, time is very profitably spent in the early stages of a relationship with an Italian company finding out what the real, rather than the paper decision-making process might be.


This country-specific business culture profile was written by Keith Warburton who is the founder of the cultural awareness training consultancy Global Business Culture

Global Business culture is a leading training provider in the fields of cross-cultural communication and global virtual team working.  We provide training to global corporations in live classroom-based formats, through webinars and also through our cultural awareness digital learning hub, Global Business Compass.

This World Business Culture profile is designed as an introduction to business culture in Italy only and a more detailed understanding needs a more in-depth exploration which we can provide through our training and consultancy services.

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